Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Uppermost Branch

In that day his strong cities will be as a forsaken bough And an uppermost branch, Which they left because of the children of Israel; And there will be desolation.  Isaiah 17:9  NKJV

I find it unfortunate that it seems, at least to me, that verbal threats against the nation of Israel have become so numerous and frequent that they have begun to be perceived as commonplace and without merit.  Anyone who chooses to study prophecy, however, is well aware that the future of Israel is bleak and foreboding to say the least.  An article caught my eye recently in which the leader of Hezbollah once again threatened to send missiles into Israel.  Now that might not be anything new, but what caught my eye was the fact that he chose to single out the city of Tel Aviv as the possible recipient of his onslaught. 

One of the conclusions I came to years ago as I studied Isaiah 17, was that a portion of the prophecy more than likely referred to the modern city of Tel Aviv.  This is, of course, simply my personal belief based on my studies of both the passage and the current situation in Israel today.  I may well be wrong, but I think it highly likely that events will play out much like the scenario I describe.  What follows is an excerpt from the book I wrote about the Isaiah 17 prophecy, and a possible result of Israel’s decision to strike at the city of Damascus as revealed in this chapter of Isaiah.

“Most people are more familiar with Jerusalem than any other city in Israel; however it can be argued that it is not necessarily the most important one.  Tel Aviv, located in the northwest part of the state is arguably the most important city in Israel today.  Although smaller in population than Jerusalem, if you include all of the outlying metropolitan areas or "suburbs", it is by far much larger.  It is as well considered to be the "economic capitol" of Israel.  It is home to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Tel Aviv University, most of Israel’s national sports teams, and is considered by Newsweek magazine to be one of the world's top ten most "technologically influential" cities.

The outlying metropolitan area of Tel Aviv is home to what could be considered the equivalent of our "silicon valley".  Tel Aviv has best been described as the Israeli equivalent to New York City in regards to its importance to the nation.  So what does this have to do with verse 9?  Notice that verse 9 states that Israel's "strong cities" will resemble a "forsaken bough".  So what can this picture possibly mean you ask?  I think I can help with that from my own personal experience.

 I will freely admit to not possessing a green thumb, but that doesn't mean I don't try my hand at growing things.  I have an apple tree in my back yard that produces some of the best tasting apples I have ever eaten, and I like nothing better than watching it fill up with fruit every year, providing I do what I have to do to insure that happens.  Unfortunately learning how to take care of a fruit tree by proper pruning has been personally challenging.  I can still remember when we first bought our house and found that it came with an apple tree, how excited I was to watch it grow.  Not knowing anything but that the Bible teaches that a tree needs to be pruned, I just went out when I saw neighbors pruning their trees and had at it.

 When I was done pruning, and stood back to admire my work, it can best be described as an apple tree with a "buzz cut"; round on the sides and flat on the top!  So when time came for apples to grow, I had plenty of apples on the highest reaches of the tree, and virtually none on the sides.  My ladder wasn't long enough to reach the top of the tree so most of the very best apples that year were left for the birds to enjoy, while I could only watch.  Now when I read this verse in Isaiah, I can't help but remember that experience and wonder if this is exactly what Isaiah is trying to tell us?

 Is it possible that Tel Aviv, made up of many individual metropolitan areas, yet the largest and most important cities in Israel, will be attacked in such a way as having to be abandoned and left as indefensible because it is so far away from Jerusalem?  It might not be as unbelievable as you think if we look at the rhetoric coming from Hezbollah and their leader Hassan Nasrallah.  Most remember the Lebanon War of 2006, and that the main weapons of choice by Hezbollah were rockets, but most don't know that a war that lasted only about thirty days, more than 4000 rockets were launched at Israel.
On October 31, 2007, a United Nations report stated that Israel was reporting that Hezbollah was rearming with "hundreds" of Zilzal and Fajr rockets with a range of 155 miles, which will put Tel Aviv well within their range.  In the past, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah has said that under "certain circumstances", they would have no hesitation to attack Tel Aviv with rockets, and it now appears they have the capability to do so.  Is this what Isaiah is predicting here when he says that Israel must forsake its strong cities that are like an "uppermost branch"?  If so, what is the result?”

 Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, And have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold, Therefore you will plant pleasant plants And set out foreign seedlings; In the day you will make your plant to grow, And in the morning you will make your seed to flourish; But the harvest will be a heap of ruins In the day of grief and desperate sorrow.  Isaiah 17:10-11  NKJV

As I said in the beginning of today’s study, most students of prophecy are well aware of what the Bible reveals as the future of the nation of Israel.  Have you ever wondered why a nation that is only slightly larger than our state of New Jersey can somehow find itself in the news every single day?  There is no question in my mind that we have arrived at that point in time which the Bible speaks so much about, and that the removal of the Church will shortly occur so that God can once again focus His attention on Israel. 

The body of Christ is promised deliverance from the wrath to come, and becoming part of that body is the result of our choice to accept the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ for our sins.  If you haven’t made that choice, what better time than right now to do it, before it’s too late. 

Simply pray a prayer like this; Jesus I know that I am a sinner, and have sinned against you.  I believe you loved me enough to send your Son Jesus to die for my sins, and that He rose from the dead so that I can live.  Forgive me of my sins and come into my life and help me to live for you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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